Dishonorable Men

Dishonorable: bringing shame and disgrace on someone or something; lacking respect or ethical principles.

History is a funny thing. It makes heroes of horrific people and villains of honorable men. I have always been interested in the different ways people view the same thing. So much can color our perception of a person or historical event.

For most of the country, the Civil War ended on April 9, 1865. In the South, particularly South Carolina and Georgia, people who have lived here for generations feel differently.

William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman

The most dishonorable man I can think of who is now deceased is William Tecumseh Sherman. My father hated Sherman with a passion, and he told me stories, passed down by word of mouth, that aren’t in the cleaned-up history books. What is in the books gives credence to what my father said – Sherman was a vicious, cruel man who took pleasure in destruction. In early 1864, Lincoln made Sherman supreme commander of the armies in the West and Grant ordered him to “create havoc and destruction of all resources that would be beneficial to the enemy.” A couple of months later, with 98,797 troops and 254 cannons, Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign, declaring Atlanta to be a military encampment and eventually burning the city to the ground. He was allowed to do what no other military leader had done in our country against our own people. His men were encouraged to pillage and burn Southern homes, raping the women and killing at will. In his March to the Sea, Sherman cut a sixty mile wide swath through Georgia, destroying everything in his path. On December 23, 1864, Sherman sent a telegram to Lincoln stating that he was presenting him the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift. Following that, he went through South Carolina and North Carolina, right by the house in which I grew up. The house was spared because his soldiers used it. The orders came from Grant, but Lincoln allowed it in order to end the war.

I’m glad that the South lost the war. Had we won, our country would have been splintered and weak. However, the ends do not justify the means. There is plenty of dishonor to go around in our country’s history.

Actors who have portrayed George Wickham

Actors who have portrayed George Wickham

No Austen man comes close to the level of dishonor exhibited, in my opinion, my Sherman, but I’ll choose another military man from her works to stand by him.

George Wickham, selfish, self-centered, grasping, and despoiler of innocents is, to me, the most dishonorable of Austen’s characters. If you have limited yourself to watching the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, you lack a full picture of his villainy. Read the book or watch the 1995 miniseries for a more complete sketching of his character.


2 thoughts on “Dishonorable Men

  1. Susan Kaye

    I agree that immoral and evil men tear up individual lives, neighborhoods, and whole societies. My problem is giving half a whit, other than in the sense of human decency, what dead people have done. I hate what Hitler did but can’t raise a lather over the man personally.

    I have a grandmother who was a prizing winning fiend. Each member of my family has psychological scares inflicted by her. Thankfully, she’s been dead many years and has now slipped into that territory of as long as she doesn’t haunt my house, I don’t care.

    Another example, decades ago I read a book about the Holy Spirit by Catherine Marshall of “Christy” fame. She spoke of having a visceral hatred of Henry the 8th. So much so she had to pray to forgive him, and pray for God’s forgiveness for hating him. I understand why she prayed as she did, I just don’t have those kinds of feelings about historical figures.

    Interesting post, Robin.


  2. Robin Helm Post author

    Thanks, Susan. I do agree that it’s much better to let it go. I actually don’t think of Sherman from day to day or hate the man. What’s done is done. I simply couldn’t use any present-day, living men in the post, though I could think of several who would fit the bill nicely. That would have been inflammatory.



Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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